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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2009 > Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2009 - Feature Stories Outdoor Indiana - July/August 2009 - Feature Stories

Burning for Good
If fishing floats your boat...
Ferris wheel of Fair food
Covering our covers

Burning for GOOD

Flames forge healthy ecosystems
By Ben Shadley

Conservation Officer Roger Goldman and J.R. Lacy of DNR Fire Headquarters begin “mop-up” on the Little Blue Creek fire so that fire does not cross the control line.I’m on a trail in Brown County State Park and the woods to the right of me is on fire. Hot, thick smoke burns my eyes, makes it hard to breathe, and cuts visibility to a few feet.

An ATV decked out with fire-fighting equipment whizzes by, carrying two firemen in full gear, then vanishes, flashing lights included, into the haze. Just off the trail in a ghostly scene almost totally obscured by smoke, a fireman cuts down the trunk of a dead tree, part of which is still on fire.

A few more steps and I exit this surreal world into fresh air and sunshine, like unexpectedly surfacing from a long, forced underwater swim.

(Above left) Conservation Officer Roger Goldman and J.R. Lacy of DNR Fire Headquarters begin “mop-up” on the Little Blue Creek fire so that fire does not cross the control line.

Firemen turn for a brief moment to see who’s emerged, but it’s futile. Just as everyone else, I’m disguised by yellow, fire-resistant clothing topped by a hardhat, and they quickly return to their task. I’ve made it to what’s designated as Division Alpha, to deliver photographer John Maxwell some much-needed water.

We watch as specially trained DNR employees continue igniting the forest’s natural fuels with specialized drip torches. They’ve been at it for hours. Two more teams do the same on different sides of the fire. By the time it’s over, flames will have moved through almost 600 acres of state park in an effort to maintain one of Indiana’s diverse ecosystems.

Why set a portion of one of our most beloved destinations on fire? Ask the planners of this blaze, officially known as Little Blue Creek East prescribed fire, and they’ll all answer about the same. For its own good.

In our Smokey Bear world, torching the forest to improve its health seems a novel idea. Fire, however, can be akin to strong medicine. The key to proper use is dosage. An unwanted, out-of-control fire reaps destruction, but just as surely, ignoring fire’s role in the natural world carries unwanted consequences. Now Smokey teaches us the difference between good fire and bad—fire in the form of decimation vs. fire used for ecological benefits.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

If fishing floats your boat ...

TRY THIS
Story and photos by John Maxwell

“Float or jug fishing is the use of any buoyed container (made of any material other than glass) that suspends a single fishing line and a single- or multi-barbed hook.”
 —2009 DNR Indiana Fishing Guide

Mississinewa River angler Mike Renie laid back in his canoe seat and scanned the slow autumn river with a seasoned eye.

Mike Renie from Grant County tosses his jug fishing rig into the Mississinewa River“There is no cheaper way to relax and catch dinner,” he said.

Renie had floated four empty 2-liter plastic bottles in the river, each with a baited fishing hook below a short length of line tied to the bottle’s neck.

“The jugs will find hiding fish for you. The bottles follow the natural path of food floating down the river,” Renie said. “Let them drift into snags and corners where catfish are waiting to eat. Float them over riffles and holes too, and try different line lengths.”

(Above right) Mike Renie from Grant County tosses his jug fishing rig into the Mississinewa River. Jug rigs range from empty plastic pop bottles to large Ohio River tip-up rigs made of PVC pipe and foam swim noodles. Some jug anglers denote different line lengths with bottle cap or noodle color. More tricks include putting soybeans or gravel in a jug so it makes noise when a catfish bites the hook. Glow sticks in jugs are handy for fishing river oxbows and bayous at dusk.

After bumping a tree lying in the river, one of Renie’s baited floats bobbed and zig-zagged across the river. “Fish on!” said Renie, and he and I laid into our canoe paddles and gave chase.

Two languid hours later and several scenic miles down river, we had caught and released 10 good-looking, healthy channel catfish.

“If you are a person who has trouble relaxing,” Renie said, “bring a fishing pole, too, and fish while you’re fishing.”

An adventure near home

Indiana has more than 30 rivers, ranging from the historic Tippecanoe, to the rushing Whitewater, to the giant Ohio, to Indiana’s river of industry through South Bend, the St. Joe. They were Indiana’s original roads as well as providers of food, power and fresh water.

The flowing waters of Indiana’s rivers also hold a good supply of the ubiquitous channel catfish. The state’s largest rivers like the Ohio and lower Wabash and lower White rivers also hide the larger blue and flathead catfish. Smaller bullhead catfish like slow muddy bayous and oxbows.

Hundreds of miles of these rivers receive little or no fishing pressure. If these river miles can float a canoe, then stretches are probably deep enough to be fished using jugs. 
 
Indiana float fishing has a few easy rules. Each angler may fish as many as five floats, but only one hook may be attached to each float line. Floats cannot be made of glass. Each float must be marked with the user’s name and address, and all lines must be in constant visual contact.

Jug fishing is best in mild or slow current. Use fewer floats in fast current. Two or three floats will keep you busy in faster waters.

Float fishing is not allowed on public lakes and reservoirs for safety reasons. These waters are often filled with powerboats, water skiers, personal watercraft and swimmers during warmer months.

General Indiana fishing regulations and life jacket rules apply to float fishing. For examples: a life jacket is required in a boat for each angler, channel catfish in rivers must be 10 inches or longer to be kept, and a fishing license is required for most anglers older than age 16.

Bring plenty of fresh drinking water. Hip waders or water shoes, depending on water temperature, make launching and shallow-water canoe pulling more comfortable.

Ultra-light and inexpensive

Renie was river fishing like our Hoosier grandparents, many of whom had no expensive sport fishing tackle, but needed to catch fish to feed their families.

A frugal float fisherman can often find 90 percent of his equipment in the trash can at a launch ramp. Cheap bait can be seined minnows, crayfish, garden worms, chicken livers, hot dogs or even cold-cut scraps from an angler’s lunch.

Big river flatheads prefer live bait, like goldfish or legally caught sunfish. To slow invasive proliferation, live gizzard shad cannot be used as bait in any Indiana river.

Kevin Hardie, director of the Friends of the White River in Indianapolis, hoped to illustrate to me how inexpensive, educational and relaxing a jug fishing experience can be.

On a cool July morning last summer, Hardie and his friends Dan Valleskey and Ed Kassig met me at a White River carry-in boat launch near Broad Ripple in Indianapolis.

Hardie’s son Michael and teenage fishing buddy Ben Valleskey finished their breakfast and grabbed about a half-dozen discarded drinking water bottles from a trash can at the ramp for our ultra-light floats.

The rest of our fishing gear for the group was a few short lengths of fishing line, a few circle hooks, chunks of hot dogs soaked in “secret” garlic sauce, and a marker for writing on the floats.

Hardie said the White River flowing through the north side of the capital city was surprisingly natural-looking and pretty, and was becoming well known for quality smallmouth bass fishing.

“When our club get people out on the river for the first time, it’s like ‘Wow, this is really nice,’” Hardie said. “And these people get to see eagles and herons near their homes, and they learn to appreciate and care about the river.”

On the river, Hardie and friends were content to float with the current, experimenting with different line lengths in different river stretches, testing sinkers in faster rapids, or trying different comfortable, lazy postures in the bottom of the canoe.

Teenagers Michael and Ben did most of the work, hollering and splashing and chasing jug-pulling catfish. “Those kids would rather jug fish than play video games,” Hardie said.

Many other people would, too. Try it.

Pick up a copy of Outdoor Indiana magazine at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

Ferris wheel of Fair food

By Erin Hiatt

Deep fried Oreos, Milky Way, chocolate chip cookie dough.Ahh ... it’s August—humid, hot and sticky, especially sticky for me.

Frank, an OI photographer, just spilled a Monkey Nut down my arm.

Let me explain. As the unofficial foodie on the OI staff, I’ve been dispatched on a culinary mission to the Indiana State Fair. Drink drippage is just one of the dangers.

Despite its odd name and the accident, a Monkey Nut is a tasty concoction, much like a virgin pina colada. They serve the icy drink, topped with whipped cream, in a hollowed-out coconut shell with a monkey face carved on the front.

The drink makes me feel as though I should be sitting by a pool in some Mexican resort. Instead, I’m eating my way around the Indiana State Fair.

I start this trail of gastric resilience at the Natural Resources Building on the north side of the Track of Champions. Ringing the huge track is a crowded road that’s home to the majority of the fair food vendors. I’ve set out to traverse this food trail in its entirety, finishing where I started. My goals are to eat, survive and report on the most distinctive offerings.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

Covering our covers

By Phil Bloom

Outdoor Indiana Cover from January 1964Perhaps you already know that Richard Nixon appeared on the cover of Time magazine more than any other person. Fifty-five times, in fact.

And you might already know that basketball great Michael Jordan risked the legendary Sports Illustrated cover jinx a record 49 times.

But neither ever made the cover of Outdoor Indiana magazine. We know because we looked.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.